Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe President Donald Trump's encouragement of a foreign leader to investigate Trump's political rival and his family is a serious problem, but only 17% said they were surprised by the president's actions, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News, asked Americans about a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to a memo released by the White House.
In a polarized electorate, attitudes about the severity of Trump's actions broke strongly along partisan lines, with Democrats three times as likely to find the conversation a very or somewhat serious problem -- 91% of Democrats compared with 32% of Republicans.
Democrats also were even more likely to have the most intense feelings, with nearly 3 in 4, about 72%, saying they thought the president's comments were a very serious problem, compared to 41% of Independents.
Republicans were less intense in their skepticism about the seriousness of the problem than Democrats were in their conviction it was a problem -- 37% of Republicans said it wasn't serious at all, but 13% of Republicans responded that it was a very serious problem compared to only 2% of Democrats who said the president's actions related to Ukraine were not a problem at all.
Still, Trump's actions during the phone conversation were not surprising to a large majority of Americans. About 83% responded that they were not so surprised or not surprised at all that Trump had such a conversation, with little variation by partisanship. Only 3% of Americans said they were very surprised.
Amid the rapidly unfolding political drama, only about 1 in 4, or 24%, said they were following news of Trump's call very closely. About 4 in 10 said they were following it somewhat closely.
Those who said that they were keeping a close eye on the news were more likely to be Democrats and more likely to think the conversation was a serious problem.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll comes days after a fast-moving series of events, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's announcement on Tuesday that House Democrats were moving forward with a formal impeachment inquiry -- after an overwhelming parade of members of her own caucus backed the move.
The survey did not include a question about respondents' support or opposition to an impeachment inquiry.
But early polling conducted early last week, before the release of the whistleblower complaint on Thursday, showed a shift in support for an impeachment inquiry since Pelosi's announcement.
In an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll conducted Wednesday, 49% of Americans approved of House Democrats launching an impeachment inquiry, while 46% disapproved. In the same survey, a substantial majority of voters, about 70%, said they were paying attention to the news.
Earlier this year, following former special counsel Robert Mueller's public statement at the conclusion of the Russia investigation, only 22% of Americans supported beginning impeachment proceedings in a June NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® Sept. 27-28, 2019, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 504 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.8 points, including the design effect. See the poll's top-line results and details on the methodology here.